The fourth installment of CSP Inc.’s Informational Webinar Series, presented by VP of Sales & Marketing Stephen Riddick, covers the extremely important topic of ransomware. Something Stephen is quick to point out is the fact that cybercrime has evolved into a profitable business for hackers. As this business continues to become more sophisticated, and hacking becomes industrialized – even backed by governments or organized crime in some cases – your important and sensitive data is at greater risk.

The dark web offers criminals a platform to sell and purchase stolen data such as credit card numbers with the same ease you would find on any reputable online shopping site, and hacking software is available commercially – it’s even marketed, complete with special promotions and discounts. With potential profits from the theft and sale of personal and financial data exceeding  $450 billion, this threat will not be going anywhere any time soon.

As IT Sprawl increases each person’s digital presence both at home and at the office, security becomes a greater concern, and a more complicated process. As larger corporations beef up their security measures, many hackers are setting their sights on smaller businesses that may not have access to the same resources to protect themselves. 41% of cyber attacks are now directed at businesses with 500 or fewer employees.

There are dozens of cyber threats these criminals can use to achieve their goals, but one of the most prevalent – and potentially most damaging – is ransomware. First identified in 2012, ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts data on infected systems and networks, locking users out unless they pay a demanded fee for the decryption key. Refusing to pay the ransom demand will result in your data being deleted permanently. Unfortunately, paying a hacker for this key will not guarantee that you will actually get your data back.

Today, there are an estimated 1 million ransomware attacks every single day. Small US businesses paid $200 million in ransom demands in the first half of 2016. But the real financial damage doesn’t come from these ransom fees. As a result of the downtime an infection like this causes, ransomware has cost small US businesses more than $75 billion so far this year.

Roughly 75% of infections are achieved through social engineering, an attack vector that relies heavily on human interaction, and often involves tricking people into breaking normal security procedures. A common tactic involves a hacker sending an email that is disguised as correspondence from a financial institution, instructing the victim to click on a link that will trigger the download of the ransomware virus under the guise of fixing an issue with their account.

When it comes to protecting your business, diligence is key. Investing in multi-faceted IT security that defends your network on all sides can help to minimize some of the risk. These security measures should include a next gen firewall, antivirus and antimalware software, an Intrusion Prevention System, 24/7 real-time network monitoring, email security, and securing your wireless signal. Training your staff to identify and avoid these threats can make them a security asset, instead of your business’ biggest vulnerability.

Above all else, it’s crucial to have a reliable and comprehensive Data Backup and Recovery Plan in place. If your business is hit with a ransomware attack – or any other cyber threat – you’ll need to have a data backup in place to restore your data from. Not only will this eliminate the need to pay a ransom demand, it will help to reduce the amount of downtime your business will face. Talk to your IT provider today to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your business safe.

Want to find out more about the ways CSP Inc. can help protect your business from cybercrime? Contact us today at or (919) 424-2000 . We’re the trusted IT experts for businesses in Raleigh.

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